General Relativity and Gravitation

, Volume 41, Issue 4, pp 903–917 | Cite as

Black holes, AdS, and CFTs

  • Donald MarolfEmail author
Open Access
Research Article


This brief conference proceeding attempts to explain the implications of the anti-de Sitter/conformal field theory (AdS/CFT) correspondence for black hole entropy in a language accessible to relativists and other non-string theorists. The main conclusion is that the Bekenstein–Hawking entropy S BH is the density of states associated with certain superselections sectors, defined by what may be called the algebra of boundary observables. Interestingly while there is a valid context in which this result can be restated as “S BH counts all states inside the black hole,” there may also be another in which it may be restated as “S BH does not count all states inside the black hole, but only those that are distinguishable from the outside.” The arguments and conclusions represent the author’s translation of the community’s collective wisdom, combined with a few recent results.


Black hole entropy AdS/CFT 



This work was supported in part by the US National Science Foundation under Grant No. PHY05-55669, and by funds from the University of California.

Open Access

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Physics DepartmentUCSBSanta BarbaraUSA

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